The Value in Arts

While I’m tired, groggy, and in a consistent haze due to allergies, here we are, back in the classroom from our short-lived spring break. In all honesty, some days, it takes careful thinking and mindfulness to remember the positives that come from working in a classroom filled with 5th graders who have their own version of senioritis. This morning I got an email from a man who came to our school to work with our students as an author-in-residence…even though he was really a playwright. Turns out the play my class wrote was chosen to be performed by Best Medicine Rep, a local nonprofit professional theater company, at the Gaithersburg Books Festival.

Ironically, just two weeks ago, I received a very different email from the same playwright, detailing how funding and grants for opportunities like the one my class had would be cut.

While I’m in a STEM-focused program, you may have heard “STEM” being broadened to include the arts, with the new name “STEAM.” With all the complications and nuances with education policy right now, the struggle to close gaps and understand how to best structure a classroom and school so that every student can succeed…I can understand why decision makers feel a need to push aside the arts in order to prioritize things like math and reading. However, this decision is without it’s faults and detriments to students.

I had never seen my kids collaborate as well as they did when they were working on writing this play. I had never seen certain students break out of their shell all year….until they had the opportunity to audition for the role of Mercy Otis Warren. It’s such a wonderful opportunity, and it would be a shame to see opportunities like that go away.


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